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AltadenaCraig

"Scoutmaster' Title Doomed?

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You can change the word all you want but people will still use it.

In the UK we changed "master" to "leader" in the 1960s, I forget when, and half the people I meet outside of scouting still refer to scout masters.

I really wouldn't worry about it.

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6 hours ago, David CO said:

Getting back to the topic, I don't think the title of Scoutmaster is doomed.  Even if BSA does decide to change the title in their paperwork and publications, many units will continue to use it.  A lot of people don't say Scouts BSA. 

Agree. 22 years after the terms officially went away, I still hear "Venture Scout" and "venture crew" to incorrectly id Venturers and Venturing Crew.

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On 6/27/2020 at 12:01 PM, AltadenaCraig said:

This EXACTLY makes the point.  Sisyphus had more success rolling his rock than we should expect to have attempting to justify 'master' because the audience is not our leadership trainees but rather all the others we wish to attract.  Among ourselves questioning "Scoutmaster" sounds silly, I completely agree.  But to expect showing others "how the term 'master' has been used as titles" is preposterous.  I'm on board with scoutldr's suggestion to appropriate "Advisor".

So, you are saying that more youth would enlist in the program if it we used something like "responsible, participating, citizen and unit leader"?

Quote

VISION STATEMENT

The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.

That's testable. For a "nominal" consulting fee, I can arrange a marketing survey (from a rhetorician whose kids were never in scouting) to ask a randomly selected sample of citizens. If they'd be more or less inclined to enroll their kids in a program with an RPCaUL as opposed to one with an SM.

If, on the other hand, your first proposition (to rid the scouter-verse of tyrannical adults) is the more important motive, the best we have is anecdotal evidence that the title does not mold the leader. Any better would require a massive sociological analysis.

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12 hours ago, yknot said:

You have sent me bizarre personal messages and have not responded when I have asked you what the heck you mean.  That is not a friendly tone my friend. 

I don't send a lot of messages, but they are typically not invites to a discussion. Instead they usually insight or suggestions based from an accumulation of personal life experiences. I typically only send private messages when I don't want to distract the main discussion (like we are doing now). I don't recall exactly what I sent you or the context of why I sent it, but I'm confident it wasn't negative because you are only offended by my lack of response. I must of felt the message was clear enough. Or maybe I felt further discussion was path to mud wrestling and I didn't want to participate. One thing for sure, friendly, courteous and kind was first on my mind.

Barry

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"Scoutmaster" from "headmaster."  The real mistake is "leader" if you believe in the Patrol method as defined by Bill Hillcourt. where youth leads and adults advise.  

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15 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

I've never encountered anyone in person who ever commented on the title in any way, positive or negative.

Maybe it's just me then.  I've repeatedly run into people where it's not a positive term.  Even myself.  When I first took training, I was a bit creep'ed out by the term.  I've known the word my whole life and I've known it's respected.  But the term can be creepy.  ... It's never been a major issue with anyone.  ... I just don't think it's a good choice.  ... I put it in the category of a place we could improve / clarify.  

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17 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Maybe it's just me then.  I've repeatedly run into people where it's not a positive term.  Even myself.  When I first took training, I was a bit creep'ed out by the term.  I've known the word my whole life and I've known it's respected.  But the term can be creepy.  ... It's never been a major issue with anyone.  ... I just don't think it's a good choice.  ... I put it in the category of a place we could improve / clarify.  

Seems like there is an attempt to separate the past BSA from the future BSA. These new changes, or proposed changes, make todays Scouting sound like something completely different. And maybe that is what the culture wants. That is what they did to Canada Scouts. It is very little of what it was 20 years ago. But, so is the membership.

In fact, maybe "Scout" is a condescending term for today's youth. Let's go all the way and change the program to The Environmental Guardians. They can still call it an outdoor program, while unloading the burdensome weight of god, ideals, and personal accountability, all in one swoop. Earning the Eagle can be something like saving a whale or polar bear. The title alone is noble. 

I don't know, just thinking out loud.

Barry

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I have never, in all my years of Scouting, encountered this 'problem.' As I have always interpreted it, the Scoutmaster is not a master over the Scouts - he is a master of the skills of Scouting. Likewise, the Cubmaster is not the master of the Cubs - he is a master of the skills of Cub Scouting.

In Scouting, the label 'master' is used as a term of respect for the Scoutmaster or Cubmaster's superior abilities and skills, not as a submission to some (imagined) superior authority or status. This is perhaps a finer nuance of meaning than many are accustomed to consider, in the which case I think our more refined use of the nomenclature can only be a positive thing, and one that can help us progress towards a more enlightened use of both language and terminology. Our use of the word master can help us advance beyond the unfortunate stigmas of the past, and move towards a more equitable use, where anybody can become a master of skills through hard work and diligence, and where recognition for such can be recognized by any and all. 

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I've always taken it the way, @The Latin Scot has. The SM has mastered skills.

But, I think B-P was also drawing on both British education and military. The term "scout master general" was used in the 1600s. So, there was the more recent connotation from education: learned and skilled at teaching and training teachers, which probably derived from the military definition: learned and skilled at espianage and training spies. B-P was certainly aware of both when he applied the term to the primary adult in a boy scout troop.

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It's a hundred year old program with hundred year old titles, oath and law. What's more, I first got into it just about 50 years ago. So, that makes me old and I've never really thought about the titles. I honestly don't care whether the titles change or not. If it works for new scouts and parents then we should do that, as it's for them anyway. I'm not sure they would care so who knows.

While we're here I would like to add a 13th point to the scout law, however. I think Humble would be a good one. Maybe the assumption is that in order to be all of those other things like courteous and helpful, one has to be humble so there's no need to explicitly say it. It would just be easier to talk to some scouts, that are too full of themselves and starting to annoy everyone around them, that humility is a good thing. But that's a different topic.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MattR said:

While we're here I would like to add a 13th point to the scout law, however. I think Humble would be a good one. Maybe the assumption is that in order to be all of those other things like courteous and helpful, one has to be humble so there's no need to explicitly say it. It would just be easier to talk to some scouts, that are too full of themselves and starting to annoy everyone around them, that humility is a good thing. But that's a different topic.

It would certainly be a valid topic if you ask me - what point would you add or subtract from the Scout law if given the opportunity? I remember that at my own Eagle Board of Review, I was asked that very question. I, like you, answered humble, and my reasoning was much along the same lines as your response here. Even as a 14 year-old, I was frustrated with many of the egos I encountered in Scouting - certainly among the bullies who made life difficult for smaller fellows like myself, but even more so among the leaders who thought themselves above reproach. That was twenty-odd years ago, but my feelings are still the same. Humility, modesty, and discretion are undervalued attributes these days. 

Back to the topic at hand, I feel those are qualities that every Scoutmaster and Cubmaster should embody. If they did, I don't think there would be an issue with the titles. A Scouter who has mastered all the skills and virtues of Scouting, but is modest about his abilities and accomplishments, would be the best kind of promotion for our program, and would be the best argument for keeping these venerated and time-honored terms. 

I can't help but think of the Norman Rockwell painting, called appropriately enough The Scoutmaster. I look at this image and think, not of some authoritarian adult forcing children to submit to his will, but of a strong, gentle leader with the wisdom and skills needed to help guide and encourage the youth in his care to become better citizens, better family members, and better people - all through the strength of who he is, not what he says. I see in this painting (which has a fascinating story behind it) the very ideal of what we mean when we call somebody a Scoutmaster -  this is someone who has truly mastered both the skills and virtues of Scouting, who lives its values, and who sets an example for the youth in his care to follow. 

We would all do well to live up to those ideas, and try to be, in our own way, true Scoutmasters and Cubmasters, even if our current position is something besides. 

Scoutmaster.jpg

Edited by The Latin Scot
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I think an organization in bankruptcy shouldn't spend a lot of money on something that will have little to no impact on membership. If this were an idea where the benefit exceeded the cost, then consider it.  I personally don't see it.

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9 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

I have never, in all my years of Scouting, encountered this 'problem.'

Agreed.  It's not a problem.  It's just a twinge and a place for future improvement.  

 

9 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

I have never, in all my years of Scouting, encountered this 'problem.' As I have always interpreted it, the Scoutmaster is not a master over the Scouts - he is a master of the skills of Scouting. Likewise, the Cubmaster is not the master of the Cubs - he is a master of the skills of Cub Scouting.

In Scouting, the label 'master' is used as a term of respect for the Scoutmaster or Cubmaster's superior abilities and skills, not as a submission to some (imagined) superior authority or status. T

 

As a friend, I'm saying ... that's a stretch.   Everyone treats it as an in-charge title.  The big chief is always expected to be skilled, but the focus is on command more than skill.  Example, "headmaster" is about being in-charge of the school and less about being more knowledgeable about the educational topics.  A headmaster should be a successful academic, but the job is about control.

8 hours ago, qwazse said:

I've always taken it the way, @The Latin Scot has. The SM has mastered skills.

But, I think B-P was also drawing on both British education and military. The term "scout master general" was used in the 1600s. So, there was the more recent connotation from education: learned and skilled at teaching and training teachers, which probably derived from the military definition: learned and skilled at espianage and training spies. B-P was certainly aware of both when he applied the term to the primary adult in a boy scout troop.

"Scout master general" is defined as "A person, formerly so called, under whose direction all the scouts and army messengers were placed."

                           https://www.definitions.net/definition/scout-master-general

Everyone expect scoutmasters to be skilled, but expect scoutmasters to lead the scouts. 

 

I understand the long standing tradition of "scoutmaster".  I've just never been endeared with the term as much as others. 

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15 hours ago, MattR said:

While we're here I would like to add a 13th point to the scout law, however. I think Humble would be a good one. Maybe the assumption is that in order to be all of those other things like courteous and helpful, one has to be humble so there's no need to explicitly say it. It would just be easier to talk to some scouts, that are too full of themselves and starting to annoy everyone around them, that humility is a good thing. But that's a different topic.

What a great topic. You should start one and see where it goes. 

My kids grew up learning about humility and how it directs life. But, I wonder, can one be born with it. Or, do acts of humility develop a humble spirit. 

We often talk of servant leadership. Servant is another word for sacrificial. Are those not acts of humility. In fact, can one be a servant without humility? 

Maybe humility grows with each act of the scout law. As the humble nature grows, the desire to act from the traits of the scout law grow as well. One thirst for the other. One grows from the other. The more we give scouts the opportunities to make choices, the more they choice to use the traits of the scout law. And the more they grow humble. I don't know, but I like that.

One last thing I've realized late in my life; I believe patience is also a trait of humility. In fact, I'm not sure that we can act humbly without patience leading the way. 14th Point?

Barry

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